If you have ever been tasked with administrating or monitoring eForms and processes published by Autonomy Process Administration (formerly known as LiquidOffice), the default events leave a bit to be desired.
As part of the ECM industry, it is important to understand what compound documents are and how they affect you. Compound documents have been an issue in ECM software from the beginning of time. According to wiseGEEK, Compound documents are document files that contain several different types of data as well as text. A compound document may include graphics, spreadsheets, images, or any other non-text data. The additional data may be embedded into the document or be linked data that is resident within the application. You may be asking what that means for you? We all know that basic ECM is scan/store/retrieve, but what happens when you add electronic documents in PDF or MS Word?
Liquid Office has changed its name to Autonomy Process Automation (APA). The version number is at 7.1 and 7.2 is due out soon. It has a new feature than makes hooking a workflow process to an existing HTML form very easy to do.
I recently gave a presentation at our Nexus convention about eForms — and how they can produce real business value. Although the presentation was meant for those who have not spent much time analyzing the benefits of e-forms, some real industry heavyweights showed up. Unfortunately this was a lost opportunity because if I had more time I would’ve handed over the microphone for additional eForm paradigms and parables. Alas I had more material than time. Here’s a brief discussion of some of the topics I covered.
An eForm is of course an electronic representation of a paper form. In fact, many eForms look exactly like their paper counterpart. When a paper process goes electric, you’re not just leaving the paper behind. You are opening the door to processing times that are dramatically more expedient, and a host of other advantages.
Because of their inherent characteristics, eForms:
- save money
- When it can costs $20 to file a document and up to $314 per filing cabinet for the real state it consumes, you know storing paper isn’t cheap. And it can cost up to $220 to reproduce a lost document.
- are green
- Since the United States is the world’s largest producer and consumer paper, and for more than half of all organizations paper use is on the rise – the green choice is to reproduce paper processes electronically
- are malleable
- What if you just snail mailed one million requests for information and then discovered a fatal error in the text of your paper document. You can do the math here — it would be expensive to fix this, and slow. Online eForms can be changed in flash with very little effort or cost.
In the past I have blogged about exporting Autonomy Cardiff’s TeleForm forms into LiquidOffice using the File Exchange Format. And then populating those LiquidOffice forms with OCR’d metadata from TeleForm data using LiquidOffice’s virtual submit feature. So in this dance, TeleForm is the lead.
And a lead dancer’s job is to make the other dancer look good, right?
Time for a swap – let’s let LiquidOffice lead.
Here we’ll leverage the TeleForm LiquidOffice SOAP connect agent. Price: FREE with TeleForm. Using this method offers a helpful twist: you can attach data and documents to an active LiquidOffice process if you wish. That is not achievable with the virtual submission method.
Though described in the help files as a “complex subject”, there’s some scenarios that comply with the KISS approach (my favorite). Time to jump in but, warning, danger, disclaimer: this blog assumes you’ve spent some quality time with LiquidOffice and TeleForm.
If you are developing forms in LiquidOffice, chances are form owners have asked you to include drop lists to ensure data integrity in your backend database or repository. And just as likely they have asked for drop list value changes AFTER the form has been published. Or sometimes there is a business need to accommodate frequent drop list value changes. In many cases it is advantageous to allow users to make the drop list value changes themselves. One approach is to use a LiquidOffice drop list maintenance form, and restrict access to this form to the appropriate power users. Whenever the need for a change arises the maintenance form is available.
To get started, create a database to house the drop list values. Each field in the table will correspond to a drop list on your form. Populate these fields with the initial values the form owner has provided.
Next, create a connect agent to your database. In LiquidOffice Management Console, highlight the Connect Agent icon then select File/ Add. The wizard walks you through steps where you name the connect agent and the type (SQL DataBase Read/Write in my case). Select a JDBC driver and modify the JDBC URL to reflect your hostname and database name. Provide credentials, select ‘LookUp Only’, and you are done.
When designing your form’s drop list, go into the properties to select Control type: drop list and List source: dynamic (from database). You can then select the connect agent, table and column and you are set. If you want the display column to be different than the storage column, click Storage Column and select another column from the drop list. An example: Display = “Arizona”, Storage =”AZ”. Remember you must publish the form to confirm the drop list is correctly populated.
Now create another LiquidOffice form to perform maintenance on the drop-list table. Continue reading
While exploring different document separation techniques I discovered that bar code separation may cause the document to be split multiple times. I scanned in a single document that had 334 pages and for some reason it split the document multiple times. There were no other barcodes except one Patch Type T separator at the beginning of the document.
Often we are up against tight deadlines and we need to use all our tricks and tools to help increase efficiency and provide a better client experience. When we have clients with large form libraries that need converting to eForms; one of my favorite tools to use is FormBridge for Liquid Office. FormBridge does direct conversions of PDF, word, excel and other common form files to Liquid Office xfm files like magic! The converted forms are fully editable and are amazingly accurate copies with minor tweaks for formatting once translated. FormBridge automatically creates fillable fields, just as a forms designer would and this is a huge time saver.
Forms kick-off workflows and drive business. Moving paper based and un-editable eforms to an intelligent digital format has many benefits such as cost savings based on efficiencies and increased accessibility. Even a small business may have hundreds of forms. As a system integrator of ECM technologies we know what tools and tips to help your eForms initiative become a huge success.
Scanning and capturing data via OCR can save lots of time over manual indexing. Linking these same forms and metadata to an eForm workflow process takes it all to the next level of efficiency – processes that took hours and days can be reduced to minutes or seconds. Using out-of-the-box connectors and settings, form templates that were created in Cardiff TeleForm can be exported to Cardiff LiquidOffice. With a given form residing in both LiquidOffice and TeleForm, capture choices are broadened and the benefits of workflow are easily in reach.
Here’s how it is done. TeleForm forms can be saved in a file exchange format that LiquidOffice Designer can read. Once a TeleForm form is complete and tested, it is ready to go. The form can be a traditional form that was created from scratch in TeleForm Designer, or it can be an ‘existing form’ created initially outside of TeleForm. These forms then have TeleForm fields placed in appropriate data entry locations.
Once exported to the file exchange format, the file can be opened in LiquidOffice Designer. It will look just like the TeleForm form. An important step here is to save the file to the native LiquidOffice .XFM file format, then close LiquidOffice Designer. Reopen LiquidOffice Designer and open the .XFM file – this quick step ensures the form can be previewed as an HTML or PDF form, or published to the LiquidOffice server, without error. The fields in LiquidOffice retain important settings that were created in TeleForm such as field name, maximum length, and valid entry characters. If the form is a traditional TeleForm form, ID and reference marks can be optionally retained. (This allows a LiquidOffice user to fill a form, print it, and fax or scan it in TeleForm.)
Now that we have identical forms in TeleForm and LiquidOffice, TeleForm can be configured to export metadata to LiquidOffice. Open the TeleForm form in Designer and add the included LiquidOffice Export connect agent. When configuring this connect agent, you supply the LiquidOffice form GUID or workflow process GUID. The GUID uniquely identifies the form or process, and can be located via the LiquidOffice Management Console. You also identify the LiquidOffice Virtual Submit Directory and routing information. Since TeleForm can have many export agents attached to it, any current export may also be retained – they will coexist without complaint.
When the form is processed in TeleForm – scanned, faxed, or even created using TeleForm Verifier’s NonForm Data Entry feature, the form will appear in the appropriate inbox or queue in LiquidOffice – filled and ready for approval, ad-hoc routing, or workflow processing. Now that the form exists in LiquidOffice, you may also direct users to fill the forms directly from LiquidOffice when appropriate, bypassing TeleForm altogether. The form now has grown wings and is ready to fly.
Information technology can improve operational efficiency and businesses are turning to forms processing for automating complex processes where information is often very dynamic and acted upon in parallel. Many of our clients request very complicated multi-form rule based combinations that can be extremely complex and have data dictionaries exceeding 1,500 form fields. There are two different ways to approach advanced multi-form development and design. One is to use a method called form chaining or you can use tools such as Liquid Office Case Management.
Form Chaining is a method of displaying subsequent forms based on the submission of the original form. This is done when field data from the first form is mapped to the 2nd form – chained forms open sequentially upon submission of a primary form. Simple chaining can be achieved using out-of-the box features of the LiquidOffice Process studio. Outside of a formal workflow, the same results can be achieved. The following is code example for ad-hoc form chaining. Continue reading